Does Anyone Understand Roe v. Wade? It Is the Compromise Decision

So yesterday, I read this post by Kevin Drum where he discussed the following thought experiment:

Basically, the deal is (a) abortions up to, say, 22 weeks or so, would be legal and easily available, (b) late-term abortions would be completely illegal unless the life of the mother were clearly and directly threatened, and (c) this put an end to the whole issue. Everyone agrees to accept this as the status quo going forward.

This sounded familiar, so I fired up the Twittarz:

Amanda Marcotte responds at greater length:

If you toss “health of the mother” into his pile of acceptable reasons for post-viability abortions (which are more realistically assumed to be around 24 weeks instead of 22), you’ve just described the “compromise” position established in Roe v. Wade that has been the law of the land for 40 years now. Presumably, pro-choicers are perfectly happy with Roe, which would be why we argued it in court and have defended it for decades.

Let’s be clear here: this is not ‘abortion on demand.’ After the second trimester, the only difference between the Drum/Kilgore compromise and Roe v. Wade is the suffering of the child if carried to term (e.g., massive birth defects) and some possible disagreement about what qualifies as the life of the mother*.

This is not about nitpicking or someone being wrong on the internet (that’s just a bonus!), but a misunderstanding of where Roe v. Wade falls on the spectrum: it is the compromise position. Advocates for safe, legal abortion need to get this. We have compromised enough.

*The ‘life of the mother’ statute would infringe the religious freedoms of Jews, who even in the strictest interpretation, also allow abortion if carrying the pregnancy to term would harm her ability to have additional children (it’s worth noting that this has not been a settled issue among Jews, including the Orthodox–many interpret the (Jewish) law to be more expansive; the law itself is not agreed upon).

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